Last time the Mets and Braves met at Truist Park, the teams played for the National League East lead in the final week of the 2022 season.
The stakes aren’t nearly as high this time, but the games mean just as much for the division rivals.
After an hour and 40-minute weather delay, the Braves beat the Mets 6-4 in their home ballpark Tuesday. Atlanta now owns a 6 1/2-game lead over the visitors in the NL East (who are actually in third place) with two more games in the series.
Here are five observations:
1. As the sixth inning unfolded, the Mets – and their fans – must have been thinking: Oh, no. Not again.
They had seen this movie before.
It has unfolded in front of their eyes here before.
The Braves took a three-run deficit into the bottom of the inning. One hit after another, they turned it into a one-run lead.
“We have nine strong,” Bryce Elder said. “And even when we have certain guys struggling, we’re still not easy ABs. So just kind of for those guys to kind of put together ABs and make it tough on pitchers, you get late in games, it starts wearing guys down. I’m glad they’re on my team.”
“Always, we’re trying to think, ‘Score, score, score’ and we never give up,” Marcell Ozuna said.
Matt Olson walked to lead off the inning. Austin Riley doubled.
The Braves were in business.
The next batter, Sean Murphy, smoked a two-run double to trim the deficit to a run and chase Mets starter Carlos Carrasco.
Drew Smith entered and got two outs. But Ozuna, benched Sunday for not running hard, ripped a run-scoring double that tied the game.
“It feels amazing,” Ozuna said. “Everything I’ve been doing since I was struggling, now getting success in the results is good.”
And after Ozuna went to third on a wild pitch, Orlando Arcia hit a hard grounder up the middle that went off a diving second baseman.
The Braves had the lead - and control of the game.
After a small funk, the Braves have put together three straight good offensive performances.
“It’s always good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “When you’re struggling, that’s what you look for.”
2. In baseball, the margin for error can be slim. The difference between excellent and good might not be a wide gap.
In this game, Elder had a great outing – save for two pitches. He hung two sliders.
And on this night, they became a pair of two-run home runs in the third. Francisco Lindor crushed the first one, Pete Alonso pulverized the second.
All four runs scored with two outs because of a two-out walk after the first homer.
Otherwise, Elder pitched well. He struck out eight batters.
“I thought it was really good,” Elder said of his stuff. “I was pleased with it. I thought the timing was good and thought I commanded well, for the most part. Those two sliders were just a touch up, but you live with it and roll on.”
He went six innings and kept the game within striking distance by never allowing another run.
Of the final nine batters Elder faced, only one reached – and Elder erased him with a double play.
3. After Alonso homered on Elder’s slider, the broadcast’s camera and field microphone caught him yelling.
“Throw it again!” Alonso shouted at Elder from the dugout. “Throw it again, please! Throw it again!”
In the sixth inning, when the Braves mounted their comeback, Ozuna ripped a double on Smith’s slider to score the tying run.
The broadcast camera flashed to rehabbing reliever Tyler Matzek.
“Throw it again!” he appeared to yell.
Elder said he didn’t hear Alonso. And when asked if something like this upsets him, he said: “No. I mean, if I hit one on the concourse, I might holler, too.”
4. The Braves’ bullpen, which has been criticized for its poor performance, held up well.
After Elder’s night ended, Jesse Chavez, A.J. Minter and Raisel Iglesias each pitched scoreless innings to slam the door.
Meanwhile, the Mets had a big inning off Smith (who gave up Carrasco’s runs as well) and then added a run off Adam Ottavino in the eighth inning.
“That was big, just because I feel like here recently, it’s been the hitters (playing well) and then us bullpen kind of blowing it, and then it’s been the bullpen kind of doing it and the hitters not,” Minter said. “It was kind of good just to see both of us kind of click and sync up tonight.”
Only three Mets reached base after the third inning.
5. The Braves have won nine of the last 11 games versus New York, dating to last season’s unbelievable comeback in the NL East standings.
In that span, the Braves have won five straight and seven of eight at Truist Park. This place has been a house of horrors for the Mets, who have lost five consecutive season series to the Braves.
Stat to know
54-36 - Since the start of the 2018 season, the Braves are 54-36 versus the Mets.
“It’s always (big) against the Mets,” Minter said. “It’s that division rivalry where it feels like a postseason atmosphere.”
The Braves on Tuesday will face Max Scherzer, one of New York’s aces. Atlanta will send Charlie Morton to the mound for a game that begins at 7:20 p.m.